My 10 Days

Small business, Big difference.

Skills Venture - Jo

Jo has twenty years’ experience in market planning and analysis of emerging technology markets, focusing on the automotive, wireless and portable devices, digital home and aerospace sectors. Jo spent a week mentoring three entrepreneurs in August 2009, and a week on holiday.

MONDAY: Orientation session and drive to Malewa
I land at 6am; my driver meets me and takes me to the Kivi Millimani hotel for a quick shower and some sleep. Then an orientation chat with Peter in the hotel bar and after lunch, my first mentee, Louis, who is starting up an IT business. Later that afternoon I am driven up to Malewa, where I stay for a full two weeks.


TUESDAY: Mentoring session with Micah at Malewa
After a huge breakfast, I relax in the sunshine before my next mentee, Micah arrives. Micah is very smart and has lots of ideas for his technology business, but many seem impractical (including taking on Google!). We have a good session and I am looking forward to seeing Micah again later in the week.


WEDNESDAY: Visit to Eburru Primary School
Back in the UK I raised £1,000 for furniture for nearby Eburru Primary School, and Rob from Skills Venture takes me to visit the school itself. I have quite an overwhelming day as we head up into the hills to visit very poor communities, and I end up making a speech to 600 schoolchildren, parents and teachers!


THURSDAY: Mentoring session with a carpenter in Gilgil
My planned mentee cancels, but a backup session is organised with a carpenter in Gilgil. We meet in a local cafe. His English isn't brilliant, but we have a great session and we organise a follow-up meeting at his place of work, where he wants me to meet his family. All he needs is the basics of business.


FRIDAY: Mentoring session with Micah at Malewa
Micah comes back for a second session. He arrives at noon, so I have the morning to myself to read and walk. Micah later sends a lovely email to Skills Venture, saying: “I believe that the management teaching and coaching I have had in two days will change my entire business life for evermore!”


SATURDAY: Relaxation and discussion at Malewa
The day is all about doing very little! I have been looking forward to a quiet sunny spot to read a book and this is exactly what I do. Naomi who works at Malewa shows me some of her baskets and beads, which are beautiful. There may be some opportunities to sell to the fair trade shop in Hitchin where I live.


SUNDAY: Local walks and free time
Another quiet day. I take a short walk up the hill behind Malewa Ranch House, to see amazing views of the Rift Valley. As usual, a day of fabulously big and delicious meals, taken outside under the Jacaranda tree. There are several monkeys who sit in the trees and occasionally venture across the gardens.